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Tories reveal plans to tackle obesity

By Gareth Iacobucci

The Conservatives have pledged to take a ‘less nannying' approach to obesity as part of their latest ‘responsibility deal' on public health.

The Party says people should take more responsibility for their lifestyles, and should not be offered ‘excuses' for being overweight.

They also vowed not to promote the ‘traffic light' system for labelling fatty and sugary foods, and said they would focus on promoting an improved diet, rather than a ‘fear of junk foods'.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley delivered the proposals in a speech to the thinktank Reform, entitled No Excuses, No Nannying.

In it, Mr Lansley set out proposals for the ‘non bureaucratic deal' that examines how government and business can work together to tackle problems caused by poor diet, alcohol abuse and lack of exercise.

The Tories have put forward a range of policy initiatives, which will be considered by a new working group of business representatives chaired by Dave Lewis, Chairman of Unilever.

These include backing EU-wide proposals for compulsory food labeling on the front of packaging; asking the food industry to cut down on portion sizes; clamping down on food advertising; and using role models and positive peer pressure to promote healthy living.

The party urged local businesses to actively participate in campaigns to promote exercise, sport in the community and healthy lifestyles.

The scheme is the Tories second 'responsibility' deal, following the initiative on producer waste announced earlier this year.

Outlining the proposals, Mr Lansley said: ‘We will focus on delivering an improved diet, not a narrow focus based on a fear of ‘junk foods. Government promotion and FSA promotion of ‘traffic light' labelling will stop. Why push a system that only tells people a fraction of what they need to know?'

He added: ‘We will empower people and local communities, and work in partnership with business, Local Government, communities and families to deliver on a healthy living agenda – in schools, workplaces, local clubs and through NHS services. Legislation will be a last resort.'

The news comes as a new report by Dr Foster Research shows that obesity levels are increasingly prevalent throughout the UK.

The report entitled ‘Weighing Up the Burden of Obesity', includes an updated ‘Fat Map', which reveals obesity hotspots in southern Scotland, the north east of England, the Midlands and most of Wales. Other areas of ‘high' prevalences also occurred in the far south east and south west of England.

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